Aloe vera

I have noticed with interest the popular use of the plant Aloe vera in Nigeria for treatment of various ailments, including skin infections, burns, stomach problems and eye diseases. People are growing the plant in their yards and making money selling its shoots or juice. It can be easily grown by taking leaf cuttings.

There are several publications by herbalists describing the use of Aloe vera in the treatment of illnesses. However, as a health promoter, I am concerned about promotion of the plant as a cure-all drug.

Dzever Ishenge, PO Box 684, Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria

Editor: Scientists have found that aloe juice has antibiotic and coagulating (blood clotting) properties. This means it can be beneficial for treating constipation, indigestion and mild infections. It also seems to speed up the healing of skin wounds. It acts as a skin moisturiser, making it very effective in the treatment of skin burns. While it is definitely a very useful plant, it is certainly not a cure-all drug and should never be advertised, for example, as a cure for AIDS. There are also over 300 species and some can be poisonous. So be careful and take local advice on which species to grow and use.

Making coccidiostat for poultry 

I would like to contribute a recipe for a herbal remedy that helps cure coccidiosis in poultry. This disease causes bloody diarrhoea, often followed by death in two weeks.

  • Collect seeds of slightly mature, but not ripe, papaya fruit.
  • Crush, dry well in the sun and pound into powder.
  • Collect male papaya flowers (from trees which do not bear fruit).
  • Again crush, dry well in the sun and pound into a powder.
  • Mix the two powders together in equal amounts.
  • Mix to a thin paste with drinking water.

Give this mixture to poultry at the first sign of coccidiosis and it will help to cure the disease.

The Aged Family Uganda, PO Box 2882, Kampala, Uganda. E-mail: agedr@yahoo.com


Our Organic Farming Organisation has introduced amaranth grains into cooking. Traditionally, women have only cooked the leaves as vegetables, forgetting the grain itself, which is high in protein. The grain can either be shallow fried or ground in grain mills or on a grinding stone and cooked as porridge for children and others in the family.

Amaranth grain has a perfect balance of essential amino acids and protein. It helps to cure nausea, dizziness and anaemia. Footsteps readers in East Africa can ask us for seeds.

Yembe/Nasusi Organic Farming Organisation, PO Box 643, Kimilili, Kenya

Editor: Amaranth is found all around the world and is usually eaten as a vegetable.

KiSwahili booklets on agriculture

During my work in Tanzania we have developed a number of booklets, both in English and KiSwahili, about a number of topics concerning agriculture, largely based on articles in Footsteps. We are unable to send these out to individuals. However, if organisations are able to make copies of the leaflets to distribute, we would be happy to send master copies of the leaflets.

These subjects are available in both English and KiSwahili:
Kilimo Mseto (Agroforestry)
Utunzaji wa miti (Tree management)
Mlonge (The moringa tree)
Misingi ya Ufugaji bora (Basics of animal husbandry)
Misingi ya lishe bora ya mifugo (Improved animal nutrition).

These subjects are available in KiSwahili only:
Kurutubisha udongo (Improving soil fertility)
Utengenezaji wa mboji (Production of compost)
Kupima makingo maji (Measuring terraces with a line level

Readers should send requests for these books to: info@dynamoderation.de and explain how they plan to use them.

Heinz Horsch, Arusha, Tanzania

Footsteps library

I take full advantage of each edition of Footsteps and find that issues never cease to be relevant. I keep my issues as reference material permanently in my small personal library. Some of the sections I read the most are the readers’ letters and resources. This has allowed me to get in contact with other people and to exchange information.

I have some handbooks that I would like to share with Spanish readers. These are distributed freely as part of a government programme here in Argentina. I think they would be useful in other regions. Topics include Starting a goods exchange market, Intensive organic market-gardening, and Fruit trees. I can send them by e-mail to any interested reader.

Walter Zurdo, Argentina. proyectojubileo@yahoo.com.ar 


I have designed a simple drier made up of drawers. This is useful for drying leaves, tomatoes, herbs and fruit. You build a square structure, 1.5 metres on each side, raised on posts 20cm above the ground. The structure contains four drawers, one above the other, but each one pulling out to a different side. In front of each drawer two poles are placed which hold up the drawers when they are pulled out.

In the morning, when the sun begins to get hot, you pull each drawer out fully. In the evening or if it starts to rain, you simply push the drawers in. The contents dry because it is hot inside the cabin and there are air holes to allow the air to circulate.

Pascal Kazadi, Action pour le Développement, BP 1377, Bujumbura, Burundi. E-mail: paskazadi@iwa.org

Children with disabilities

We would like to thank you for the quality of the information in Pas à Pas 49 which enhances the status and motivation of people with disabilities. In our work here we find several problems. Very few parents who have children with disabilities take much interest in their training, preferring to take responsibility for those who are in ‘normal’ schools. Most of the deaf children in our school here in Tshela have been almost abandoned by their parents. For example, they have no uniform provided, no school fees and no supply of pens and exercise books for their school needs. This kind of attitude creates a sense of unease in the minds of the children.

Every parent of a child with disabilities must understand that nothing happens by chance, for all things work together for good towards those who love God (Romans 8:28). Some families even break up as a result of the birth of a handicapped child. However, the family should remain united in prayer and seek ways and means for the future training of the child.

The church must set an example by encouraging the status of people with disabilities, accepting them as full members. For example, allowing deaf people to understand the Sunday sermon by providing a translation in sign language.

Roger Dimbi-Sanzu, Programme Coordinator for CERHA, BP 145, Tshela, Bas-fleuve, République Democratique du Congo

Low space vegetable growing 

Many people who live in urban areas find it hard to have space to produce home-grown vegetables. Lack of water may also be a problem.

Here is a simple idea for growing vegetables. Fill an old plastic sack to the top with soil, adding manure and compost if available. You may want to tie wires around the side to keep it firm.

Sink either a PVC pipe or thick bamboo piece about 1 metre long into the centre. Make slits in the side to plant vegetables such as pumpkins and grow leafy vegetables at the top. Use the pipe to water regularly using household waste water, adding fermented cow urine once a week as a fertiliser.

R Sarvanandha Ranjasthan, Thavady Kokuvil, Sri Lanka

Editor: Old car tyres with a plastic sheet at the base can also be used in this way, stacked two or three high.

Roadside tree planting programmes 

In Bangladesh, roads are one of the few places high enough to grow trees without the danger of the roots suffering from water-logging during the rainy season. Back in 1990, most roads were bare embankments, without any trees planted alongside them. Now many NGOs encourage road-side tree planting programmes.

In Suagram, members of Udoghi Women’s Group planted 2,500 flood-resistant trees along 3km of roadside in 1994. These included mahogany, which is good for furniture, the fast-growing rain tree and local varieties which are good for house building. When ready for harvest, income from the trees will be shared between the women’s group, the NGO (COB) who provided the seedlings and advice and the local government (who allowed the land to be used). The road is well used and people appreciate the trees for the shade they provide.

During times of flood, roads with such trees act as a shelter for people who are temporarily homeless. The trees also help improve the environment and provide feed for livestock and leaves for compost. Some may also produce fruit or have medicinal qualities.

Peter Musgrave, 3 Auckland Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4SD, UK. E-mail: peter@redbridgecvs.net